Bob Feldman's Triplicity demonstrates how well small-group free improvisation can work when each of the players is committed to integrating his contributions with those of his colleagues. Tenorist/bamboo flutist Feldman, bassist Ken Filiano and the late drummer Walter Perkins respond immediately to each other's ideas with supplementary or complementary ideas of their own, creating true collective improvisation. Some of the settings are based on Feldman's sketches, while some others resulted when the trio, as the leader put it, "turned down the lights and simply trusted our ears."
Even though the improvisations are generally free from harmonic constraints and can change tempos precipitously, the music is for the most part melodic and highly rhythmic. On tenor, Feldman employs a conventional swing feel most of the time, yet he rarely uses familiar patterns and does employ unmeasured blurs of notes and, on occasion, squawks and overblown high notes. Filiano plays both pizzicato and bowed bass with an impressive display of technique and melodic ingenuity, both in his reactions to the others and in his own solo passages. Perkins doesn't miss a lick-literally. The moment one of his fellows articulates a figure, he's right there with an appropriate reaction.